Help with a conference presentation

"I am presenting in a couple weeks at our state conference and my topic is "Open forum: Understanding the Male ECE Teacher." I am hoping to get  a lot of questions and discussion to help create future presentations.

I attend men in Early Childhood Education sessions when they are offered at conferences and I feel there is a lack of people discussing what exactly it is like being an only male at your job. I also feel, from my own experiences, that it can be very discouraging to males going into our line of work. It can be stressful at times and rough trying to get your point across. I tend to not fight as much for what I believe because I feel like my ideas are disregarded because they are different. I also find a tad unfair that I am forced to look at things from their point of view and it seems like there is not as much of an effort to look at things from my point of view. I work with 10 women and, (right now), 14 lead student teachers who are women and then around 30 or so assistant student teachers who are usually, and are now, all women. Whenever I am passionate about things I am told I am emotional, as it is a bad thing for a man apparently. I enjoy all of the people I work with but sometimes become very frustrated with being the only male.

I know am kind worried as to where I am going to actually going to go with this. I am thinking that to provoke discussion I am going to share stories, my own and whoever else I can get, of frustrations that I have dealt with.

I also attended a difference in male and female brain session at NAEYC this past year and plan on maybe sharing some of the differences that occur.

My issue is that the more I think about and plan my session I feel like people are going to think I am woman bashing, which is the farthest thing that I want to happen. I am hoping to maybe shed some light on why a male coworker might do what he does that may, for lack of a better word, bug them. I feel that "lonely" feeling and feeling of not being heard may also may be one reason why this profession has so few males. I also hope find out what women actual thoughts are to help build my presentation for further use.

If you think you could help me with any stories or ideas about the subject I would greatly appreciate it. I would also appreciate your thoughts on whether or not you think this is a valid idea. I am by no means an expert other than being a male and honestly not totally sure if this is the way that other males feel."

Nathan Jonaitis
natejonaitis at

I take a global view at the

I take a global view at the start of my presentations, and then I do my best to apply international lessons learned to whatever is happening at the local level (Think globally: Act locally!). I highlight the relationship between global gender discrimination against women and girls and the reality of a gender uniform workforce in early childhood education. With abuses such as restrictions on girls education, the sex industry and trafficking in women and children, arranged and child marriages, violence against women, gang rape and rape as a tool of war, selective abortions and infanticide, and unfortunately many other very real issues that make women and children especially vulnerable to repression, abuse, and exploitation, our campaign does well to tread lightly.
An underlying premise throughout my presentations is the longstanding international support for widening male caregiving responsibilities for children and un-well family members. This has been championed by gender equality groups as far back and perhaps prior to the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924, forward through to present day international efforts of the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, Commission on the Status of Women, and many others. Widening male caregiving responsibilities equalizes the balance of power between family members and shifts resource allocation (That is, time and money: who earns it; who controls it; who spends it) in favor of women’s and children’s health, development, and education – This is a presentation in itself, but before moving on I point out the association between close and early father-child links (what Psychological Anthropologists call “Paternal Investments”) with reductions in violence: Violence against women, against children, and against other men (aka. World Peace).
Since widening male caregiving responsibilities isn’t generally applied to recruiting, supporting, and retaining men as early educators, I highlight the global gender equality moment goal of the importance of modeling non-violent adult masculinities with special emphasis on lessons for the prevention of violence against women and children beginning for children “from the earliest ages” (UNDAW 2004, p.15). While international strategies to increase male nurturing and responsibility for children have typically focused on youth or adults, “a possibly more effective strategy is to intervene during the formation of gender roles” [UNICEF, 1995, p.25]. With contemporary changes in parental roles and family composition, men who work directly with young children are and important part of helping children to attach to the male half of their humanity. (For more contemporary sources on this and related positions, I highly recommend the good works of Plan International – Especially their reports, “Because I am a Girl: Learning for life 2012, and “Because I am a Girl: So, what about boys”. The citations and links are at the end of this essay).

Especially now, in a period of the most fluid societal gender role expectations in human history, assumptions that careers in education are suitable for only one gender restricts education, career and employment possibilities for both genders. This is true whether we are speaking of regions or countries that limit girl’s access to an education and women’s access to employment opportunities – where educators are principally male OR as is the case in western societies, where educators are principally female.
The institutional tracking of women into careers in education and other helping professions violates principals of self-determination, equal opportunity, and social justice in a free society. The fact that children in most societies view caregiving and early education as principally female obligations has been defined as “a key aspect of global gender inequalities,” because it reinforces young children’s stereotypic assumptions about gender attributes and roles (UN DAW, 2004).
Lastly, I highly recommend keeping your presentation brief (good luck with that ), because the broad goal is to move the whole of your audience to dialog and discuss issues, concerns, and hopefully to flush out some forward thinking ideas for actions that we all might benefit from.
I would welcome any ideas for how to strengthen these arguments, alternative positions, and I am just generally interested in other people’s thoughts. Please do keep us all abreast on how your presentation goes.

Donald Piburn


Piburn, D., Nelson, B., Carlson, F., & West, R. (2011 September). Men teaching: Gender Equality through the Promise of Gender Balance. Young Children, V66N5, 64 - 66.

Plan International - Because I am a Girl: Learning for life 2012. (2012). Retrieved 01:50, April 28, 2013 from

Plan International - Because I am a Girl: So, what about boys? (2012). Retrieved 01:50, April 28, 2013 from

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (1995). Men in families: Report of a consultation on the role of males and fathers in achieving gender equality. (ISBN:92-806-3166-7). New York: NY. Evaluation and Research Conference Report.

United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women in collaboration with The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, International Labor Organization and United Nations Development Program, (2004, January 12). Report of the Expert Group Meeting - Brasilia, Brazil: The roles of men and boys in achieving gender equality. Retrieved on July 17, 2005 from:

Understanding the Male ECE Teacher

I have work in the ECE field in a Child Development Center for over 15 years providing direct care and understand your concerns and feelings completely. I presented last year to a college class which consisted of 1 male and 16 females and was worried about the issues of female or mother bashing when talking about my experience. The thing I would suggest is to present both the strengths and weaknesses that you feel as a male working with children and offer suggestions of how female coworkers can help with the weaker areas. Don't ignore the importance of men in ECE but at the same time be humble enough to acknowledge that just increasing our numbers or presence won't solve every problem. Men want to work in this field but often don't have as much pre-career training (babysitting, taking care of younger siblings) as our female counterparts do. We need women who have this experience to be supportive and understanding so that we as males are able to feel confident enough to let our strengths and abilities be included in the classroom environment and teaching field. I hope that information is helpful and thanks for working to help support men working with children. From personal experience I know how much of an uphill battle and difficult field it can be to work in. Hang in there and don't give up!!

How to not be angry at women

Not sure how to solve this challenge; but I see and have experienced how woman bashing can get across from people passionate about men inclusion in traditional "women matters". One thing that would have helped prevent that in the situations I was involved, would be a thoughtful focus on what men can do; rather than the focus on how women don't let them do it (which I personally have observed). The latter is not intentional.

Clearly, it is out of passion for a good cause but it is usually so forceful that it gets across as the main message... It is like with racism. If I focus on how white folks don't let black folks achieve (truth or not), I will be seen as the ABW (angry black woman); but if I focus on the skills I have which make me compete equally, I would be creating less tension in the conversation.